Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pizza, then Pi, and finally Pies —A Great way to Celebrate a Transcendental Number

Making Pi Night Buttons

Wednesday, March 14 is Pi Day (3.14)  What better excuse is there to have a celebration of math with middle schoolers than π?     Last Friday night, well over 250 students, parents, teachers, and volunteers from the high school, PTA and community celebrated π  at the East Somerville Community School by eating pizza for dinner then spending an evening estimating, creating, collecting data, answering questions, and ending with pies for everyone.  Luckily the Math Fund celebrated early, since many schools had a Snow Day on Pi Day, thanks to the third Nor’easter this March.
Pitching pennies to figure which is a more challenging target,
a  circle in a square or a square in a circle

After enjoying pizza donated by the Bickoff family of the Commercial Cleaning Service (discounted by White Sport), the students from the East Somerville School, who were joined by students from Argenziano and Healey Schools, went around to a wide variety of math activities set up in the gym.
Drawing a circle using a right angle

These activities included: bicycle wheel roll, guessing contest, tooth pick drop (Buffon’s Needle problem), drawing a circle the size of a CD, mystery boxes, π button design, π facts quiz, birthday in π, circle in square vs square in circle, drawing cardioid or nephroid, drawing concentric circles by folding, drawing circles by tangents, drawing circle by right angles, graphing circumference vs diameter, and predicting circumferences in mm by feel of objects in mystery boxes.
Drawing a cardioid using straight lines

The event was planned by Scott Weaver (ESCS), Wil Jacques (Healey) and Erica Voolich (Somerville Mathematics Fund) with help from Jen Rodriguez (Argenziano) and Jonathan Killian (Argenziano).  Teachers at the Somerville High School recruited volunteers to help run the events they may have experienced themselves years before.
Estimating how far a bike wheel will roll after 2 revolutions.

Table Talk Pies of Worcester generously supplied small pies for all who came that night and large pies for the winners of events.  Table Talk has generously supported this Somerville Math Fund event for fifteen years. When planning the first SMF π Night in 2003; the Math Fund called the Table Talk Pi Company and explained what π day was and Table Talk generously donated large pies for prizes and small pies for everyone.  Fifteen years later, Table Talk Pies is not only still donating to the Somerville Pi night celebration, but to many more celebrations.   This year Table Talk donated more than 60,000 pies to schools and organizations celebrating pi day.
Drawing a circle using tangents.

A big thank you to all the volunteers and donors who made this fun, educational evening possible.  It takes a community to celebrate π day!
Drawing a perfect circle free-hand the size of a CD

The Somerville Mathematics Fund, was founded in 2000 with the mission to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville, MA.  They also award renewable college mathematics scholarships; applications will be due in early April.  For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer, visit www.somervillemathematicsfund.org or mathfund@gmail.com or call 617-666-0666.
Graphing Diameter vs Circumference = 1/π slope
Taking a Pi Facts quiz

©Erica Dakin Voolich

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